Postdate: 09 April 2018
Thoughts like ''red meat is unhealthy and causes blocked blood vessels'', or ''it’s better for you to eat chicken instead of steak'' and ''vegetarians are less likely to die” often surface when it comes to meat, according to Tsuru Expert and cardiologist Dr Ruud van Langeveld. In this blog, he explains more about the relationship between red meat and the heart.
Mention meat and you mention fat
To start with: a distinction first. That's quite important for making a useful statement. Naturally, meat is divided into red meat (pork, lamb, beef) and white meat (chicken, turkey, rabbit). Both may or may not be factory processed by adding salt and preservatives.
So, on the one hand there is ''fresh'' unprocessed meat and on the other hand, processed and preserved meat. Think of salami, bacon and hot dogs. The belief that meat will make your cholesterol level rise is - almost traditionally - set in our heads. Not without reason. Older studies showed a convincing link between the many saturated fats in meat and the unmistakable, nasty consequence: the heart attack.
Lean and processed meat
It is in fact different. Current research shows that omnivores compared with vegetarians-despite eating more saturated fats from meat - still have a lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. And it is this specific LDL that is linked to heart problems. Current studies show no relationship at all between eating lean, unprocessed red meat and heart attacks or blocked arteries.
That relationship does exist with processed meats, as we know it for example, in the form of sausages and cold cuts for sandwiches. This contains an average of 4 times more salt and 1.5 more nitrates. Salt increases blood pressure and is therefore responsible for a definitely increased heart attack risk. The nitrates also deliver their harmful contribution. They reduce insulin sensitivity and thus increase the risks of diabetes.
Chicken or lean red meat therefore makes no difference to your cholesterol, and the same with respect to the likelihood of infarcts. If you eat meat, eat a real piece of meat. As much as possible, stay away from meat products and other factory processed meats.